Canada retail holiday survey 2021

With larger spending budgets, Canadians are making a big return to shopping centres and brick-and-mortar retail stores this holiday season.

November 21, 2021
  • Heli Brecailo

This holiday season, Canadians will return to shopping centres and physical retail on a grand scale, but they will still enjoy the added safety and convenience brought by pandemic-response measures. Thanks to curbside pickup, more shoppers will go to physical stores this year than in 2019.

Delta hasn’t changed the retail outlook for this holiday season and 2022, and Canadians continue to plan for a significant increase in their spending. In October, overall consumer spending remained about 20 percent above pre-Covid levels*; retail sales for the full year of 2021 should increase by double digits compared with 2019.

Canadians saved unprecedented amounts during the pandemic, much of which will go to retail, food services, and other service sectors. Canadians who have accumulated savings intend to spend a significant share of these funds by the end of 2022*.

With a high vaccination rate in Canada, shopper hesitancy is declining. COVID or the potential lack of merchandise isn’t driving Canadians to shop earlier and online as much as last year. More shoppers are looking to be entertained, and nearly half will eat or drink at shopping centres.

Some key findings
  • 85 percent of shoppers will return to shopping centres
  • About half will eat or drink in shopping centres
  • Almost one-third want online directories for discovering and ordering products
  • More shoppers are going to physical retail than in 2019
  • Canadians are spending 11 percent more on gifts
  • Amazon remains top retailer in Canada, but Walmart is looking to reclaim the top spot
  • Value remains king, but young Canadians also want to have fun
  • Spending on holiday-related merchandise set to increase by 15 percent

We surveyed 1,000 shoppers in Canada from different provinces and territories, income levels, generations, and genders about their holiday-season shopping patterns. The survey was conducted from late October to early November of 2021 and asked single-answer, open-ended, and check-all-that-apply questions.

*Sources: RBC, Bank of Canada

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